I call single joint movement (SJM) exercises, such as bicep curls, triceps extensions, and hip ad/abductor exercises cosmetic exercises. They are, quiet frankly, a huge waste of time (unless you are in a figure competition and have to flex each muscle in your body individually). Scrap the bicep curls and do push ups and pulls ups instead. Stop wasting your time doing sitting hip abductions and do single leg squats and lateral lunges instead. You will cut your workout time in half AND see much better results!
2-Work each side of your body individually and equally
*A few simple changes in your workout will expose weaknesses you did not even know that you had, and help you to have better overall balance and strength. Instead of doing your bench press with a bar, try switching to dumbbells, do alternating reps, switch from the leg press machine to doing single leg squats (you will have to go a bit lighter, but your left leg will no longer get a free ride)
This rule also applies to injuries. If one shoulder is hurt and can only shoulder press 10lbs stick with the 10lbs on the other side as well. This will help keep you in balance. Your healthy side is going to be bigger/strong than your injured side anyway, don't make it worse by over stressing the healthy side, and under stressing the injured side. Obviously if you are in a cast your normal daily activities are going to stress your healthy side way more than the injured, again, try not to compound it in the gym.
3-NEVER do crunches/sit ups
*Chiropractors everywhere are thanking me for telling you this vital rule. I know you think that crunches are the basis of a strong stomach and the highly coveted 6 pack. It's a lie. Sorry to have to break it to you so bluntly. Here is a list of reasons to cut crunches/sit ups (even with those fancy machines) completely out of your workout, and your life.
|Strong, sleek abs no crunches.|
B-Studies have been done on pig spines, these spines were placed in a machine that put them repeatedly through the basic motion of a crunch. Guess what happened to these spines... they broke, in half. The spine was not made to be stressed in this way. I know that you are thinking, "There is no way I could ever do enough sit ups to break my spine in half!" That may be true, but think of all the damage you are doing with the sit ups, slouchy posture, cracking your back and neck every five minutes, and just general stresses. You can control the amount of sit ups in your life 100%, so just don't do them. Trust me, you will thank me later.
C-Your head should always be supported. I know that you put your hands behind your head, or use a machine, and call that enough support, but it's not. Let me tell you a story...
I used to do somewhere around 500 crunches everyday, no joke. (and no, my abs did not look amazing) Anyway, I started to have problems with my voice. I'm a singer and I was teaching large groups of 4th-12th graders at the time. Losing my voice was not an option. After visiting an ENT and a vocal specialist I was told that my neck muscles had gotten so big that they were squeezing my vocal folds. SICK, right? There is no need for me to have that strong, or that big of a neck ever! I understand why football players and MMA fighters need a strong neck (it probably saves their lives in some cases) but for the general population, it's just an unhealthy choice.
I know you are all panicking because you now have no idea how you are going to exercise your core. Check out my YouTube page there is play list of 29 exercises that safely exercise your core. If you don't want to click through just remember planks, cable stability chops/lifts, and heel extensions are your new best friends.
4-If an exercise is too easy, you probably just need to add more resistance
*Adding more weight is not the only way to add more (though it is still an option), you can add instability. *Light bulb* Single leg squats too easy? Try standing on an elevated, or uneven surface. Push ups too easy? Do them on only one foot, or with hands on a bosu ball. It will rock your world. Your workout and your fitness should always be evolving and progressing. There are almost endless ways of making an exercise harder. You just need a coach who knows how to do it.
5-LSD is not all it's cracked up to be
*Long Slow Distance (LSD) cardio has swept the nation as the best, and perhaps only way, to lose weight and not get "huge." Sorry to say it, but you've been lied to once more. Not only is running, or biking, or even swimming all that distance hard on your body, but it is one of the least effective ways to burn fat. This is where interval and H.I.T. (high intensity training) come into play. This is where you combine high bursts of speed/intensity with slower "cool down" phases. Not only will this type of training boost your metabolism (for up to two days after you workout), but it also translates better to real life activities such as sports. When was the last time you played soccer and ran 6 miles at an easy controlled pace?
6-Every exercise should be done with good posture
*When you work out, you are really training your muscles on what you want them to do. This is why before basically every exercise I take just a second, roll my shoulders back and down, make sure my neck is straight, and that my lower back is not rounded or curved. Along with good posture proper form is a must for all exercises. If you can not do an exercise with proper form and good posture, then you need slow down, lighten the resistance, or find a slightly easier exercise. This not only protects you from injury, but it trains the muscles in your back, neck, and shoulders how to hold your torso upright and maintain good posture. This will make you look thinner, a bit taller, and just overall more healthy and confident. Not to mention prolong the healthy life of your spine!
7--(Ladies) lifting weights, even heavy ones, is not going to make you huge, or manly
*Do you have any idea how hard guys have to work to get huge? Really hard, and they have to eat tons and tons of food.. Trust me when I say that bench pressing is not going to turn your chest into pure slabs of muscle and make your shoulders bigger than your husband's. What will actually happen is that you will burn fat faster, and have a leaner, stronger frame. This will help you look and feel better now, as well as, in 40 years when your non-weightlifting friends have osteoporosis, hunched backs, diabetes, and are fighting a losing battle with gravity. Resistance training will improve your quality of life faster than almost any other method, and the results are incredibly long lasting.